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D is for Dog Bites

D is for Dog Bites

Doggone it. Pit Bulls may take the lion’s share of blame, at least in the rumor mill, when it comes to dog attacks. But a dog of any breed may bite, particularly if he is provoked, perturbed, or petrified. Basset Hounds, Beagle, Boxers, Bichon Frises, and Bloodhounds are not immune to the biting bug.

The American Humane Society (AHA) estimates some 4.7 million dog bites occur annually in the United States, with nearly 800,000 requiring medical care, leading to nearly $1 billion in dog-bite-related insurance claims.

My own daughter, who happens to be a professionally licensed pet care technician, was bitten by a Labrador Retriever. Labs enjoy a lovely reputation as gentle family-friendly dogs. But the police report (after a neighbor dialed 9-1-1) begs to differ.

Digging into the dangers of dog bites, I asked a few friends about their own experiences. Here’s what I found.

Linda Harless Belcher, a master gardener and gardening columnist from South Carolina, offered this tale:

I was walking in my neighborhood once when this ankle-high dog came running at me. The owners were in the yard, not paying a bit of attention. I finally yelled and told them, if this was their dog, they better call him back. They did call him, and he went back. Little creature nearly tore my jeans. Had I not had heavy socks and jeans on, he would have torn into my ankle. It was scary to the point I never walked that way again.

Portland news writer Rene Chambers was attacked by a Lhasa Apso, while trying to help a friend.

My friend's neighbor died, and we had to go catch his dog, since there was nobody to care for it. When I went to pick up the pooch, it bit me right on my finger. I had my coat over my hand and was using it as a barrier, but I still had punctures in my finger.
I cleaned and washed it, but antibacterial cream on it, and watched my finger swell up nicely over the next few days.
If a dog is scared, it’s important to ry to calm it down before picking it up. In my case, I knew I had to grab the dog then while it was cornered, because we'd been trying to unsuccessfully catch it for over an hour.

Bill Thomas, Wisconsin barn and fence builder and U.S. Army veteran, recalled multiple dog bites, particularly as he worked with canines in the military.

I have been bitten so many times, I fear I have become part-dog. I am just fortunate to be in the right place at the right time(s): twice pulling Pit Bulls off of people being attacked and getting bit myself in the process.
I served as a LRRP in the Army (Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol), and they would use  Military Dogs to find us during training exercises (good Army training for the Dogs too, and before their handlers could call them off one of us usually fell victim).
I have German Shepherd - Timber Wolf hybrids, and the first time I bathed the youngest one, she took a chunk out of my arm (she still got bathed!) The meanest most vicious time I was every bitten was by a Dachshund [don't laugh!] who had muscles on muscles and in its mind was Hades with paws --- I still think of that dog every time I hear the phrase, "Good German engineering."

Texas author and blogger Lisa Carey recounted this scary dog-bite story:

My son went out to let our dog Ming, a black Chow, inside. Our fenced-in yard was separated from a play and patio area of our backyard. We had done it millions of times. When he bent down to put the leash on the dog to walk her in, she bit him on the cheek.
We were very fortunate, that she immediately released him, and we honestly never figured out why the bite occurred. We had to take him in for stitches and then tried some more training classes.
Unfortunately, about a year later, the dog did the same thing to my daughter, but on her arm. The vet recommended a house without children [for the dog], and we had to give her up to a Chow rescue adoption center.

Kim Morgan, a Florida features writer, experienced a painful surprise while working in a pet store.

I was bitten by a dog at the pet store I worked at years ago. I gave the dog a treat at the register, like we always did, and he spit it out. When I went to pick it up after a while, he decided it was his after all and he bit me -- badly.

The AHA offers several safety tips to avoid dog bites.

These include supervising children around dogs; treating dogs kindly and gently; not bothering dogs when they are eating, playing with toys, or sleeping; never approaching unfamiliar dogs; trying to remain calm around dogs; and remaining as still as possible, if a loose dog approaches.

When a dog bites, it’s important to cleanse the bite area thoroughly. If the skin is broken, seek medical attention. Also, most communities require that dog bites be reported, so the animal’s rabies inoculation status may be checked, as well as any history of previous attacks.

Dog by SnappyJack
Angry Chihuahua by David Shankbone 
Creative Commons Licensing 
Mad German Shepherd Dog by USAF Josh Flueger 
US Government Photo 
Public Domain

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  1. Thank you for bringing awareness. Fortunately I haven't ever been bitten. Your knowledge and post is very helpful!

  2. I have noticed that even my loving doggies will bite if they are scared or think someone is going to take their food.


  3. I'm always amazed at how many people live in denial that their dog could bite someone or be potentially harmful. A lot of the dogs I've known have been sweet, but there are times when they get temperamental and something stirs them up.

    When I was a kid, I was terrified of big dogs. My mother had left me with one of the neighbors to watch one afternoon and her dog put his entire jaws around my thighs. His teeth didn't pierce the skin, but I was absolutely terrified. I had a bruise for weeks and teeth impressions. I think I was about four at the time.

    Thanks for posting this. I hope it brings awareness to people who own dogs.

  4. Thank you for sharing the stories and tips. I don’t have dogs, but my family does. They’re awesome additions to the family. I always use precaution, because even though I know them, they are still animals. I’m glad you pointed out the many different breeds that can bite – any and all animals can. Certain breeds definitely have a bad rap for their behavior. Thank you.
    ~ Jodene

  5. We have 3 dogs and over the years, we have had a couple dogs who were definitely abused in their former lives. (We mainly adopt shelter pets.) We are careful when we have people here simply because you never know how a dog is going to react to a new situation. I consider all of our pups good dogs, but I don't want to put either my friends or my dogs in a difficult situation.

  6. It is frightening when a dog attacks and bites. I can see why you'd never walk that way again. Good advice offered here. Thanks for visiting my Ultimate Blog Challenge. Here's my A - Z:

  7. Thank you for sharing this story. Pit bulls may get all the crazy ill-informed, sensationalized press coverage, but when you actually ask people, very few have been bitten by one. I've been bitten twice in my life; once by a black lab, and once by a lab mix/mutt.

    I have three deaf dogs and they will never be off leash or outside of our fenced back yard unless they're firmly on a leash and in my control. I'm always disgustingly amazed by the people who let their dog roam free while they're out in the yard, or off leash in a park. People are so haughty about how "well trained" they claim their dog to be, when the truth is the opposite of that. I'm much more likely to call the police when there's a loose dog roaming out of control. That little yapper that nearly tore off a ankle? I would've called the cops in a second, maybe then the owners would wise up.

  8. Me personally, I'm more afraid of the small dogs. They are quick. I think because they are small they always feel threatened is why they are so jumpy. We have two rescue pits. Sweet dogs. I hate the bad rap the breed gets. It's all in how you treat them. But we still are very mindful of course that they are still dogs and the above tips apply.

  9. Agree with previous commenter, small dogs are worse as owners are less likely to have bothered with any training. As a postie I have been bitten three times fortunately none seriously, though I have colleagues who have been badly scarred. Best experience of a well trained dog was a farm dog once came dashing over when I arrived to make a delivery and the owner just called his name from a distance and the dog stopped in it's tracks, obviously knew who was the boss.
    thanks for sharing. Enjoy the A to Z challenge

  10. I love animals but newer owned a dog. My experiences are good in general and my great respect for unknown dogs has served me well. No bites or incidents.
    Apart from that I'm more of a cat person and have lived with several. But same there, they are very loving and loyal, but you have to respect them and understand they are animals with temper and instincts.

  11. Dealing with dog bites is really something that everyone must be aware of, because one bite can harm both the human and the dog itself. There are lots of things that a dog owner should know about. But the most important thing is to be responsible dog owners, so incidents like dog attacks could be avoided. Thanks for sharing!

    Tania Rivas @ Rivas Law Group



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